Madeleine Albright: An Interview in The Guardian

This is one of the most interesting articles I came across today. Madeliene Albright, the former U.S. Secretary of State has a new book, Fascism: A Warning. She was interviewed by Andrew Rawnsley of The Guardian. Check out the interview here in The Guardian.

Ms. Albright does not offer us much comfort. From the interview:

“The things that are happening are genuinely, seriously bad. Some of them are really bad. They’re not to do with Trump; it is the evolution of a number of different trends. All the various problems that we have, they can’t be solved by simple slogans. But it’s easier to listen to some simple slogan.”

Yet simple slogans seemed to be what a significant number of voters responded to in 2016.

Finding the Light in the Cave of Political Darkness

Of course I do my best to survive the Trump years by consulting America’s most credible media. It helps to have online subscriptions to the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Facts, and the Houston Chronicle. I feast on MSNBC with a nightly visit from, at the minimum, Rachel Maddow. I switch over to Fox sometimes to get a taste for their coverage of some particular event.

But on the side of human contact, I am mostly limited to very apolitical spheres of friends in theater and church. These are both holy places in the sense that we agree to love theater and love God without bringing up Trump. I try to imagine that people who can be so good and so generous in those areas must surely vote as I do. Surely.

Well, not so fast. Hard data shows me that the people I live with in Brazoria County actually voted about 60% for Donald Trump in 2016. My precinct in Lake Jackson favored Trump over Clinton by 69.2% to 23.6%. So you can see that one’s ability to have normal neighborly relationships can turn on staying quiet in most social venues.

But then, a couple of weeks ago, an old friend from my more active organizing days called and asked me to come to a meeting of folks who were interested in participating in the local party’s writing project – an effort to put enough letters in the mail to local media and our representatives in Congress to at least make the point that they do not own a consensus mandate. He called just after I had seen news of the administration’s criminal treatment of asylum seekers at our southern border. For the last few years I have declined involvement because of some health limits, one being depression of that special political variety. But that day my anger and grief had hit the point that I was moved to say yes.

I am so glad I did. Seven or eight of us met Saturday over burgers at Fuddrucker’s and spent the morning making some plans for the writing project but, more importantly, we had that human contact that makes all the difference in making change. I feel a little more like a citizen today and a little more efficacious.

Thank you René Martinez for calling me and giving me the opportunity to hang out with your small group of literate, justice-loving, and totally enjoyable Democrats.

My Republican friends are probably longing for contacts like these. Should any of you wander onto this site, you are welcome to join the party and have a burger with us and learn to think and write like a Democrat. Yes, to do both at the same time.

Independence Day 2018 Passes

The 243rd year of the republic is underway and the country’s somewhat democratically elected leader proves every day to be so fully incapable of the job as to endanger the future of mankind on the planet.

I count his lack of understanding the complexities of policy as incompetence. Add to that his boorish behavior and a host of probable criminal, if not treasonous, activities that are being investigated by a special counsel and I think there is sufficient reason for impeachment and conviction by the Senate.

And then there is immigration. Our sense of justice and stewardship of our world’s resources carry a moral requirement of a willingness to share. But, more than that, our history demonstrates that immigration has been the world’s gift to America of productive and loyal citizens. To take such an extreme stance against immigration is an act of national disloyalty even before we try to account for its immorality.

Of course, I know that impeachment isn’t likely to happen. Somehow the God-fearing Republicans in Congress fear something called “Trump’s base” more than they fear God. Commentators who don’t particularly fear the so called base still treat it as something real and reasonable to fear if you are running in any area that leans Republican.

But let’s take a look at the base. It seems to hang in at around 40 percent or less in national polls. That’s not a majority. It should be of little concern if our House of Representatives had been fairly apportioned. It looks a bit more impressive in Trump’s public appearances. However, what they really are is an audience. And what he is, is a performer. And a bad one at that. You can make your own judgment of that audience based on what you see behind him on the screen when he speaks at one of his occasional rallies.

I cannot speak respectfully about this base since it expressly stands for ideas and policies I find reprehensible. Those quiet members of this base, i.e., those who pretend to oppose him so as to make themselves appear less blameworthy while secretly voting to support him have God and their grandchildren to answer to.

I live with this quiet base in Lake Jackson on a day to day basis. Some of them are my friends. I am very well aware of that. But all I have to say to them is that they should be ashamed. There is no moral justification for supporting the Trump policies and administration.

There isn’t much to say that isn’t said hundreds of times each day by reasonable people and I have, therefore, not added a lot here on the subject. Lately, though, his irrational and uninformed actions relating to trade and our alliances are forcing issues to a more dangerous level than ever.

Congress, Representative Randy Weber, it is time to be rid of him. Now.

From the Times on the Debasement of Language

Here is a piece from the New York Times on the way our current politics is undermining the language as a way of representing truth. Way to go, Cougars. (And I don’t mean University of Houston.)

No university should allow itself to become associated with this trend. Lying is not a protected form of speech.

Walls Never Work

Duolingo provides free online language courses. I don’t know the people behind Duolingo but they seeme to be moved by a passion that really doesn’t include becoming digital billionaires even though they are in the process of developing one of the most effective and liberating products I have encountered during my years as an internet citizen.

Now they have produced a thirty minute video that places the need for language education in a very human context in our troubled world.

Watch this video, Texans, and you may be moved to take a language course. If you are a native English speaker, I would suggest Spanish. Give it twenty minutes a day without fail. That minimal investment of time will not allow you to become proficient, particularly if you don’t have a person to speak with periodically. But stay after it anyhow. When you do have a chance to use your new language, you will have a real head start.

The people in this video have moved away from wars in their native countries: from Syria to Iraq; from Iraq to Turkey; and Turkey is not the most secure and friendly place these days. They could be moving again. Would you blame anyone for looking toward America as a land of freedom and opportunity? And wouldn’t they be great Americans?

The ability to study new languages has been a key to their survival. Take a look.

 

Morning Paper, June 20, 2018

Back when FaceBook was a viable medium for honest people, I was the administrator for a group I called Morning Paper. The idea was simply to give people a place to share links to news stories they found interesting and have a chance to discuss them with their friends. I set it up as a “secret group” — that is the FB term for a group that a person enters by invitation. Only members can see the posts and comments. I tended to think of it as private rather than secret, a subtle but meaningful distinction.

Yes, it was an echo chamber to a certain degree but there were occasional disagreements and they were always discussed in a very civil and helpful way. It’s the thing I miss next-to-most about FB, just after the photos of my grandkids.

Today, LJ Citizen will begin posting links (and a few comments maybe) on the things I read in the morning papers. As a rule, I will not show the article but simply direct you to it should you decide to read it. So, let’s get started with the news of the day. I should mention that I subscribe to several publications that may limit your ability to open the stories if you are not a subscriber.

First from the New York Times, usually my first stop in the morning:

Probably the biggest story of the day, Continue reading “Morning Paper, June 20, 2018”

Global Threats of Climate Change: Nepalese Context

Flat landers on the Texas Gulf Coast tend to think of the dangers of climate change only in terms of tropical storms, rising tides, and high electric bills. They fantasize about moving to the mountains to escape it all. Not so fast, cowboy. This article reveals Nepal as high on the list of nations at highest risk of climate change calamity. We really do share a single planet.

Sustainable Safety Solutions, NEPAL

climate change(Photo Source: Google)

Verisk Maplecroft, a global risks analytics and research organization, published a Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) in 2010, ranking Nepal as the fourth most vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change. Recent estimates show that Nepal, in the past few years, has already been facing an annual economic loss of 1.5 to 2% of GDP due to climate change events. One may argue climate change to be a natural phenomenon but environmental and climate researchers think otherwise.

Air, water and soil are being polluted left and right. Many developed and industrialized nations are heavily emitting greenhouse gases day and night. Businesses are not performing enough for environmental good and rather seem busy lobbying against it. Very little is being done to manage ever growing garbage, pollution and toxic wastes. This in turn is causing environmental degradation, global warming, climate change and chronic health hazards around the…

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